I'm planning an experiment in which participants will respond to a stimulus by using a mouse to click somewhere on a computer screen. I'm interested in analyzing the strategies participants use to generate their responses.

On theoretical grounds, I expect the main strategies to be associated with a particular type of mouse movement trajectory, in which the mouse moves through a sequence of "fixations" prior to the final click. By "fixation" I mean a mouse movement to a certain spot (or small area) for purposes of "marking" the spot in the participant's mind. I expect fixations to be associated with the mouse cursor pausing or stopping within a small area (though it might not stop entirely), or by a sudden sharp change in direction without a pause.

How can I extract a succession of such "fixations" from the raw mouse cursor trajectory (i.e., positions & time stamps)?

  • $\begingroup$ may on stackoverflow you get better answers. $\endgroup$
    – MimSaad
    Apr 5, 2017 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ There are many studies that attempt similar things with eyetracking. The points you refer to are fixation points, which are spots that people gaze at for longer than 300 ms. $\endgroup$ Apr 5, 2017 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the chances are higher to find an answer at StackOverflow. $\endgroup$ Apr 14, 2017 at 12:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Baixiwei, I found this paper that discusses some psuedo algorithms for assessing eye tracking fixations. Maybe it could be of use for you: gruberpeplab.com/teaching/psych231_fall2013/documents/… . For any technical implementation of those algorithms I would like to refer you to www.stackoverflow.com . If you would like to know more about the concept of fixations in Eyetracking I could formulate an answer any time soon. $\endgroup$ Apr 20, 2017 at 6:47
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    $\begingroup$ I think this is a legitimate methodological question for behavioral scientists. I have read many papers in cognitive science concerned where mouse and keyboard clicks are relevant. So, I'd agree with the advice that you may get better answers on a more technical forum, but it is on topic here. I usually go with the idea that if something is on topic at two sites, that it is up to the OP to choose. $\endgroup$ Apr 21, 2017 at 2:13

1 Answer 1


I think the key term here is dwell time. There is abundant literature on this. For example, Sample et al. (2008), go into quite some detail as to how to calculate this. In a nutshell, it basically boils down to defining a cluster of pixels around the mouse pointer tip. If the mouse cursor stays within those bounds, the clock should start ticking. A certain time-based cutoff criterion (say a few hundred milliseconds) could mark it as a dwell.

- Sample et al., Geospatial Services and Applications for the Internet (2008), Springer


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